“Flying” to South Africa

A few weeks back this photo arrived in my inbox from Madelyn Bowers of New Germany. I love it when you all send me photos of my book in other locations. Not only does my book get to travel, but it shows me that there are so many thoughtful people in the world who are indulging this author’s travel fantasy by  taking my book with them around the globe. Now THAT’S really special.

GEMadelyn, and her husband, Peter, were in South Africa visiting their daughter recently. Madelyn writes, “I took along your book (she is a journalist and writer so I try to keep  her in touch with local authors as she grew up here) and it went to Cape Town with us.  We did a bus tour and stopped at Table Mountain.  Unfortunately it was foggy on the mountain so we didn’t go up, but at lower cable station you have a good view of Cape Town.  Apparently it is
about 302 m above sea level.  So that is where the picture is taken.”

This is SO cool. Keep sending the photos. I love sharing them. Thanks Madelyn.  :)

Amy’s Marathon of Books—Guest Blog Post

I’m so excited to announce that Amy Mathers has kindly agreed to be a guest on my blog today. Perhaps you’ve already hear of Amy and her Marathon of Books. She’s been getting quite a bit of media covering and, yes, she even appeared on Canada AM a few weeks back! The buzz around Amy and her “Marathon of Books,” began back in December and continues to grow. If you care about books, teen books in particular, I hope you’ll support Amy and her quest to raise $100,000 dollars to endow a Canadian teen book award. I know you’ll be inspired by Amy’s story and her determination to help promote teen fiction in this country. To date Amy has raised $10,000 dollars toward her goal. I think that’s an amazing feat in itself. If you’d like to support Amy, why not pop on over to her website HERE and find out how. 
Dear Laura Best Blog Readers,
AmyMy name is Amy Mathers and Laura has kindly invited me to write a guest post for her website. I am currently reading my way across Canada with Canadian teen fiction books. My Marathon of Books is a year-long venture and I have been reading a book a day since January 1st. I started my reading journey in St. John’s, Newfoundland by reading books either set in St. John’s or written by authors either born or living in St. John’s. I’m going province by province and territory by territory, and after 90 days of reading I am now reading my way through Quebec.
The goal of my Marathon of Books is to raise money to fund a Canadian teen fiction book award to be given out on a yearly basis by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Currently they award six cash Canadian children’s book awards at a yearly awards gala, but none of them are specifically for teen fiction.
As a volunteer for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and an avid fan of teen literature, I felt not having a specific teen award to support the efforts of our incredibly talented Canadian teen fiction authors was a real gap, and one that I hoped I could do something about.
You see, books have played an important role in my life. I was born with a genetic illness called Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD), type 3A. It’s considered to be a metabolic disease, but also a type of muscular dystrophy. My type affects the liver, heart, and muscles, and my case was so severe that I needed and received a liver transplant when I was five, and then a heart transplant when I was 27. I am now 31 years old.
Terry Fox is my hero, and I love the message he sent to Canadians through Marathon of Hope that people dealing with disabilities and illness could still live the lives they wanted to live despite their limitations.
But having a muscular dystrophy made me different than Fox, and even different than Rick Hansen. I use an electric wheelchair for mid to long distances and while dealing with chronic illness my whole life long has given me the fortitude of a marathon runner, I am not physically able to be one.
Instead of being a runner, I am a reader, and I realised that I could be like Fox and Hansen in a different way, by reading my way across Canada instead of running or pushing myself in a manual wheelchair. It’s a journey of the mind through literature, and I am experiencing everything Canada has to offer.
A typical marathon day starts with me reading a book that can range from just under a hundred pages to over 400 pages. I take the rest of the day to think about and write a review to prove that I’ve read the book and hopefully promote it, and also a daily Tumblr post to let my followers know about my reading experiences.
Some nights I’m up pretty late finishing my writing, because depending on how my body is doing that day and if I had other events going on, my brain can take time to work things out. Also, while I had figured out that I could read about 10 pages in six minutes, I didn’t take into account page size, spacing, and font size which affects my reading speed on a daily basis. Terry Fox could run a kilometre in about six minutes, and so every ten pages I read counts a kilometre across Canada in my Marathon of Books. I’m up to 19,532 pages of reading, which translates to 1953.2 kilometres travelled across Canada.
My favourite part about my Marathon of Books is that I’ve had tremendous author support. I’ve heard from the likes of Deborah Ellis, Eric Walters, Vicki Grant, Gordon Korman, and, of course, Laura Best. I’ve read so many books that I probably would have never heard about or picked up before my journey, and I love getting to review each one and brag about the talent our country has. Also, with all of the books that helped me through my life, letting me experience what I couldn’t physically and providing me with the mental strength I needed to face my situation, not to mention my profound love of Canada and its health care system, I can’t help but feel that my Marathon of Books is a wonderful way for me to say thank you for all that I have been given.
I hope you’ll visit my website, www.amysmarathonofbooks.ca, to read my reviews and for more information. I’ve already reviewed Laura Best’s Bitter, Sweet which you can read here: http://amysmarathonofbooks.ca/bitter-sweet/. Also, I encourage you to take the 13 Book Challenge and read your own way across Canada through reading one teen fiction book from each province and territory. If you do take the challenge, I hope you will get in touch with me and tell me about your reading journey.
Warmly,
Amy Mathers
Thank you Amy. It’s been such a pleasure to have you visit my blog. I wish you all the best and will continue to watch your progress in the coming months!
You can follow Amy on twitter,  Goodreads Facebook, tumblr and Youtube.

Author! Author!

Writer, Sandra Phinney has a series on her website called, Author! Author! You’ll find an interview with me there if you pop on over. Find out about how, “Flying With a Broken Wing” came into being. Oh, and Sandra says to feel free to post question! Here’s the link.  Sandraphinney.com.  Hope to see some of your there!

 

 

Author Unknown

Have you ever wondered who Anonymous is? Now, I’m speaking about Anonymous in the literary sense. You know, those  people who penned the perfect poem, the absolute sublime quote that gets to the heart of our very existence. The internet is filled with these lyrical expressions that all go under the name of Anonymous or Unknown, or Author Unknown. But that is impossible of course. Someone somewhere knows, or knew, who that unknown scribe was, the scribe themselves if no one else. Words do not miraculously appear into the world all on their own. There has to be someone behind them.

A bit of poking around and I quickly discovered mountains of anonymous quotes. Here are a few that I kind of like. Seriously, the list could go on forever.

“Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.” 

 “Everything has been figured out, except how to live.” 

 “Life is not what you live but what you love” 

 “A wise man can see more from the bottom of a well than a fool can from a mountain 

 “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” 

I’m sure there are instances where the writer didn’t start out as “Anonymous” but somewhere along the way someone used their quote without remembering who the author was and, presto, they suddenly became “Anonymous.” But for the most part I think of these anonymous writers as people who perhaps wanted to draw more attention to their words of wisdom then themselves.

I do think there is something to be said about the anonymous writer, who can set their inner most thoughts down without fear or judgment of those around them. Writing is one of those professions that really puts the writer out there under public scrutiny. You only need look at some of the book reviews on Goodreads to know what I’m talking about. I’ve read some pretty despairing comments about some of my best beloved authors and books that I absolutely loved.

Expressing oneself though the written word is a little tricky by times— words of course being as powerful as they are whether spoken, written or thought. It is our way of communicating, of showing others another way of viewing the world. While some try to force their idea onto others, many people use words as a vehicle to put their ideas, believes, values, and thoughts about life into the world, and hopefully, others will appreciate what the author has to say. Some writers do this by creating people, places and events, and if we take time to examine the words within those stories we’ll often find some hidden treasure. Other writers don’t shy away from what it is they wish to express. They can get down to the real nitty-gritty of what’s on their minds. And thank goodness for that since not everyone is interested in treasure-hunting nor do they have the tools to unlock those buried nuggets. Some of us simply read for the love of a good story, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I have wondered from time to time what words would surface in my writing if I were anonymous. I do think that it would make a difference in the stories, or even blog posts, that I might produce. I’m sure there are times when many writers pull back, even a little, for fear of what others might think or wonder about them. I’ve had people say, “I don’t know what thoughts go through your head” or that my thoughts even scare them. Honestly, I think we all have our share of scary thoughts that go no farther than our own minds. Writers put these thoughts on paper for everyone to see, and that’s where the difference comes in.

Anonymous brings freedom with it, the shedding off of people’s judgment of our words and perhaps we’d be more willing to share the thoughts of “Anonymous”, hand down those precious words though the ages than, say, some writer with the last name “Best.” That’s just an example, I’m not insinuating that my words are profound or at all inspiring, but you know what I mean.

Have you ever given thought to the “Anonymous” writer? If you were “Anonymous” do you think it would change the way you express yourself in the world?

Erin Go Bragh

Strange title, don’t you think? I love these St. Patrick’s Day postcards and the idea that cards were actually sent out to mark this occasion way back in the 19oo’s and before.

resizeAs I was scanning these very old St. Patrick’s Day postcards I noticed that some of them had “Erin Go Bragh” written on them. I had no idea what it meant. It’s actually a Gaelic phrase used to express allegiance to Ireland. It is most often translated as “Ireland Forever.” Who knew? Well maybe some of you did.

My Great -great-grandfather came to Nova Scotia from Ireland. My dad used to like to joke that he had been run out of Ireland for stealing sheep. Apparently, that’s quite a popular story among those of Irish descent when, in fact, it means they came over when the potato famine was on.

ErinGoBraghPatrick'sday1St. Patrick'sRegardless of whether you’re Irish or not, I hope you enjoyed these cards. I have more more yet to scan, but will wait to post them another year.

I love the idea of St. Patrick’s Day and the fact that it is still being celebrated today.

Erin Go Bragh!

It’s an Illusion

I recently read “An Illusion of Trust,” by Linda Cassidy Lewis. Check out her site HERE.I won the ebook in a promotional contest Linda had when her book first came out. I was thrilled! I’d read her first book, “The Brevity of Roses,” and wondered what had happened to some of the characters. FYI— “An Illusion of Trust” is the sequel.

ait_welcome_14When Renee Marshall locked the door on her dark past and married Jalal Vaziri, she hoped for a quiet life in a California coastal town. Now, with a sexy, adoring, wealthy husband, one beautiful baby and another on the way, Renee dares to believe happily ever after could be her future. But doors don’t always stay locked. As the stress of living in Jalal’s high-society world increases, the traumas of Renee’s past begin to poison the present and threaten to destroy everything she treasures. Is it Renee’s imagination or is Jalal keeping a secret that will end their marriage and rip her children from her life? And could it involve Diane, the woman who reminds Renee too much of Jalal’s beloved first wife?

Here are a few quotes from the book that I wanted to share, words that kind of left a lasting impression. There were others but these two seems rather poignant.

“On the worst nights, with exhaustion picking at the seams of sanity, I imagine myself erased from the picture.”

 “It’s time to accept marriage for what it really is—just two imperfect human beings trying to find a little happiness together.”

I have to be honest. It took me many months to settle down and read this book, but that had nothing to do with the writing or the story. In fact, I’ve been feeling down right crummy about not settling down to read it before now. One of the worst things an author encounters is waiting for someone to read our books, wondering what their thoughts are on the story we’ve pour our heart and soul into. Often times, when we hear nothing from a reader, we tend to take that as something negative. Authors are kind of fragile that way. Only those who write can truly understand that. There always seems to be that tiny place within us that allows doubt to wiggle through from time to time. We tend to forget that people have other things going on in their lives besides reading our books. Who knew?

Since I don’t own an ereader the book was downloaded to my laptop—-the laptop I do all my writing on. This created a real problem for me since I use my laptop for writing not reading and it was very difficult to take laptop time to read.

I do quite a bit of reading in the car since we live far out of town. In that way I like the convenience of books. Not only that I sometimes walk while reading in order to get a little activity into my day, and I’ve been known to use the treadmill while reading as well. In others words, I rarely sit down and read since I also sit to write. Can’t spend my days with my derrière plunked down on a chair. That’s just not good.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be comfortable reading from a screen as apposed to books. Could be I just don’t like the change. Or could be a Kobo or Kindle would be more to my liking. I’m just not sure. For me, it feels as though these reading gadgets are simply an illusion, finding their way into our lives the way all technology does. They still aren’t books and never will be. I can’t deny I like reading from a book, holding it, feeling its weight in my hands, physically turning the pages, marking the pages with bookmarks, closing the cover when I reach the end, looking through the stacks in the bookstore. If we ever come to a place where printed books no longer exist I’ll be more than a little sad. I hope this never happens.

Thank you, Linda, and I apologize for taking so long to read your lovely book.

What do you prefer printed books or ereaders? Have you ever read a book from your computer and if so how did you find the experience?

What’s up?

Despite the many snowstorms we had this winter, time seems to be flying. And so is my book—- minus moi, that is.  Here’s a photo that came to me from my Facebook friend Kitty Zinck on a recent trip she made to Jamaica. She assured me that she and my book had an “awesome time.” Nothing like rubbing it in, Kitty. But I’ll forgive you since you found room in your suitcase for Cammie and Aunt Millie. ;)

"Flying " to Jamacia.

“Flying ” to Jamaica.

Also, you can read my short story, “The Old Queen Rains that has been published in the winter issue of Understorey Magazine. While you’re there you might want to check out the rest of the magazine. It features the work of women from across Nova Scotia, and I think that’s a truly great thing.

Tomorrow is the first day of March. Just typing that out makes me want to say “What?”   Yet, there are hints of spring around us and a noticeable difference in our daylight hours. I’m excited for spring. I’m sure you all are, too. Spring always fills me with a sense of hopefulness. I immediately want to start new projects and plant things in the ground. March will also see the official release of “Flying With a Broken Wing” in the US. I can hardly wait!

So here’s to spring— new life, new hope, and warmer weather!

 

“Flying” to France and Germany

I’m travelling vicariously through my books, and I’m really getting around. These beautiful photos are compliments of Scott Haggerty who recently travelled to Germany and France with my books tucked close to his heart.  How’s that for a devoted fan? I like to think he planned his trip for the sole purpose of showing my books to the world, but alas that would be a bit presumptuous of me.

France

Taken in La Clayette, France.

Taken in La Clayette, France.

Taken in Chauffailles.  Scott says that both these places are about 400 km from Paris.

Taken in Chauffailles. Scott says that both these places are about 400 km from Paris.

Munich, Germany

The airport in Munich, Germany.

The airport in Munich, Germany.

Audi showroom outside the airport in Germany. (Munich)

Audi showroom outside the airport in Germany. (Munich)

 

Wow! love these photos, and the thought that my book is an international traveller. And thank you Scott for sending these along. I’ll be adding them to the album on my facebook page, along with some photos of Bitter, Sweet that were taken in the same locations. Got to keep it fair, right? Wouldn’t want to show any favouritism among my books.

Where will my book “fly” to next? I really can’t be sure, but I’m certainly excited to find out.

 

Old-Fashioned Valentines

A friend recently lent me her album of old cards— some from the beginning of the last century—that had belonged to her grandmother. I’m in the process of scanning them into my computer.  You know how people make the comment about how they “just don’t make things the way they used to?” This certainly applies to greeting cards. These ones are actually what we would call postcards. They certainly have a cool factor about them, not only that,  some of the post marks are from  “The Dale Post Office.”  Hey, that’s where I live.!  Not sure if I mentioned the fact that one of the rooms in the house I now live in was home to the Dale Post Office. Not only that, it’s  the  same Dale Post Office  I mentioned  in my book, Bitter, Sweet .  Doubly cool!

So in honour of Valentine’s Day soon approaching, and the fact that I just scanned these last evening, I thought I’d share these old-fashioned Valentines with you.

valentine

valentine1

Valentine2

Valentine 3

The images and colours just make my little heart flutter.  There are Easter Cards in the collection as well as Christmas and St. Patricks Day. I’ll share them with you from time to time on my blog. Can you imagine saving cards for over a century?

 

When Readers Get What We Do

In a Facebook status last week, one author made the comment that it really feels wonderful  “when someone actually gets what you do.”  The comment really resonated with me. While I understand that many people read books simply for the entertainment value (which is absolutely acceptable, in fact it’s wonderful!) some of us gather much more from the story than what lies on the page.  And there are people out there that really get that.

From the very beginning, I’ve known that there is more to the writing of a story than the story itself. I saw it in the short stories I wrote, felt it while I was in the midst of writing. I’m not someone who analyzes the works of others, nor do I analyze my own writing for that matter. Yet while I’m writing, I’m often aware of these underlying meanings that run through-out my writing. It’s not something I consciously set out to do, but something that develops on its own.  I’m sure it’s that way with many other writers as well.

I loved the mother in Bitter, Sweet for her wisdom and understanding about life. The line where she says, “There are all kinds of wisdom in the world, Pru. It’s in everything from a sunrise to a dewdrop. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Complicating things is our own doing. We’re handed life on a platter. It should be so easy.”  Love that line! And no I didn’t purposely set out to write it. Mama came up with that one all one her own. Do I believe it? Darn tootin’ I do.

While Flying With a Broken Wing is a totally different story, Cammie is one of the brightest ten year old I know. She doesn’t come out with any of Mama’s profound wisdom, but you can be sure it’s there.  One thing about Cammie is, she’s not one to sugar-coat things. She just outs with it. “Talking with Evelyn was a lot like picking your nose. You had to do a little digging around, but once you hooked a big booger it would slip out like nobody’s business.” One of my favorite lines from the book, because admit it, we’ve all known people who take a bit of prodding before they finally open up. But rather than wisdom, in Cammie’s case, I call it smarts. Smarts—Cammie would definitely like that!

We all have our own way of seeing the world, and we’re all much wiser than we realize. Often time we don’t express that wisdom, but I believe it’s something we all have. Writers are lucky in that we have an entire blank page at our disposal and we can express to our heart’s content. I’ve always felt that writing was a combination of brain power and heart power. While our brains come up with the premise of the story our hearts lead the way through the telling of it. I’m sure there are many writers out there who would disagree with this, but I can tell you when Cammie came out with that nose-picking line I didn’t have to stop and think about it. She said it. I wrote it. It was a done deal. And I loved it.

I really have to agree with the author’s comment about people getting what we do. One of the greatest rewards for any writer is creating characters and world that others can readily relate to. Not everyone will love our stories, and of course we’d wish that wasn’t so. But there’s a book out there for everyone. We all have such different tastes.

 Yesterday, one person wrote that “I felt so involved, like I was {Cammie’s} best friend.”  For a writer, it doesn’t get much better than that. As an added bonus this week, fellow blogger and writer, Darlene Foster, wrote a wonderful review of my latest book. You can view it here if you haven’t already seen it. Thanks Darlene. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book! As an added thought, you might think of letting a writer know when you’ve read and enjoyed their book. It means that all those hours we spend writing and rewriting means something to you, hopefully something good!

This winter I’ve been working at a few projects that I’m really enjoying, and when all is said and done that has to be one of the greatest rewards for a writer. It’s actually one of the greatest rewards period. I feel so fortunate.

There time for you to enter a draw over at Lynn Davidson’s blog for a copy of Shadows in the Stone by Diane Lynn McGyver. Click on the link and leave a comment and you’re entered to win. The draw is Feb 4th at 6:00 pm. Good luck!